A woman whose husband was allegedly attacked by a Fine Gael politician after a night out has told his assault trial that he was “covered in blood” afterwards.
Linda White was giving evidence at Dundalk Circuit Court at the trial of Senator John McGahon (31), of Faughart Gardens, St Mary’s Road, Dundalk, who is accused of assault causing harm to Breen White, from Castleblaney in Co Monaghan, on Park Street in Dundalk in the early hours of June 16, 2018.
The alleged incident took place outside the Rum House pub where the Whites and Mr McGahon had been socialising separately.
Mr McGahon has pleaded not guilty and is being tried before a jury overseen by judge Dara Hayes at Dundalk Circuit Court.
Mrs White told the court that as she and her husband left the pub they had to wait between two sets of doors, and they were waiting for a staff member to open the outer door.
She said it was raining outside so she reached her arms up to put her blazer over her head, and that she felt Mr McGahon’s arms coming around her.
“He said ‘come home with me’ or ‘you’re coming with me’. He came from behind me. He was swaying me in the opposite direction. I was going forward and his arms were pulling me to the right,” she said.
Mrs White told how she moved away from Mr McGahon and when they all went outside she sheltered from the rain under a ledge with her husband.
They had their backs to the wall and Mr McGahon came and stood in front of them, she explained.
“He started questioning Breen, saying ‘who are you?’ and ‘can she not speak for herself? Who are you to speak for her’ and Breen said ‘I’m her husband, just go away’. He was right in front of us and he started poking Breen in the chest with his two thumbs and fingers together,” said Mrs White.
“He was saying ‘do you know who I am?’ and Breen said ‘I don’t know who you are. Go away’. If I said anything he would mock me. He was being aggressive and smart, and questioning Breen,” she added, saying the episode went on for around five or seven minutes.
“He wouldn’t stop talking. He was really aggressive, and Breen said ‘move back and stop poking me,” Mrs White explained.
She then told how three of Mr McGahon’s friends came along, and while Mr McGahon was “shouldering and chesting” Mr White one of the friends had leaned in to them as if to say hello to Mr McGahon, and that she asked this man to take him away if he knew him.
“He had a takeaway carton in his right hand and he put his left arm around John and was pulling him back, and his friends were saying ‘John, you can not be seen to be doing this’.
“John McGahon was swinging and trying to lunge through, and his three friends were trying to push him back,” she said.
“John broke free and it was like a whirl. He brought Breen to the ground. He was face down flat on the ground,” she said, adding Mr McGahon’s friends ended up in “the whirl” as well.
“Everyone was pulling John off Breen. He was on top of Breen thumping and thumping him. Breen was flat on the ground. John eventually got up and Breen was on the ground. Breen was asking me what happened. He was covered in blood. Then John came back staggering a bit. ”
In cross examination, Hugh Hartnett, representing Mr McGahon, put it to Mrs White that she was mistaken in her evidence and that his client had not jabbed at or pulled Mr White to the ground, and said it was Mr White who had pushed Mr McGahon first.
He showed CCTV footage showing Mr McGahon going backwards into the street and said: “Your husband was first to initiate and push John McGahon back into the street.”
Mrs White said her husband had not pushed Mr McGahon, but had pushed his hands away.
Mr Hartnett showed another CCTV clip that appeared to show Mr White moving towards Mr McGahon, and he asked Mrs White if during the fight her husband had moved or stood back from Mr McGahon and then moved in towards him again to “go for him”.
Mrs White disagreed. “Breen didn’t attack John. John attacked Breen. John started the whole row and wouldn’t go away,” she said.
“Is that (footage) Breen going in for the attack?” Mr Hartnett asked Mrs White, to which she disagreed.
“What was he going in for?” he continued, to which Mrs White said she did not know.
Mr White’s son Cormac Rafferty gave evidence of arriving at Park Street having previously arranged to pick up both Breen and Linda White.
He said the fight happened quickly after he arrived, and he saw his father lying face-down on the ground being punched repeatedly about the head by John McGahon, and that Mr McGahon’s friends were trying to pull him away.
He said he went to get help and then drove his father and Linda White to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
In cross examination he said he did not see his father push Mr McGahon, and did not see him stand back from Mr McGahon and then go for him.
The case continues tomorrow.